Humane Society investigates Cal-Maine battery cage farm: surprise, it’s a hellscape »
This is absolutely the least disturbing photo of the 12 released today by the Humane Society as part of its 28-day undercover investigation at a Cal-Maine factory farm in Texas. Each hen is allowed “67 square inches” of space in which to live and die; the cages are stacked on top of each other; and there are approximate 1 million hens laying eggs at this place.
The investigation showed dead hens left in cages with living hens. It showed hens covered in manure from the hens in the cages above them. It showed hens with massive wounds left untreated. It showed eggs covered in the hens’ blood and manure. Eggs: “nature’s perfect food!”
Cal-Maine recalled “24,000 dozen,” which is to say 288,000 eggs on Friday, Nov. 5, because one of its suppliers had had its eggs test positive for Salmonella Enteriditis! This supplier, Ohio Fresh Eggs, LLC in Croton, Ohio, presumably still keeps its hens in battery cages, as the agreement reached in January of this year prohibits the building of new battery cages. Looking at the photos of the Cal-Maine facility in Texas, it’s not hard to see how naughty Salmonella might hop from the hens’ excrement to their eggs. California’s egg-eaters and its chickens are so lucky for Prop. 2, right? Except that one of the recalled brands sells eggs all over California, ha ha ha.
The detailed report from HSUS [pdf] is a very good, if nauseating read. It’ll be nice/depressing/appalling to see the omnivorous (food) world’s reaction to this. Meanwhile, anyone for a nice cruelty-free dessert? Or maybe wait a little while until you’ve recovered from that horror show.
Tales of cruelty, stupidity, insanity, creativity, and love: it’s this week’s link-o-rama! »
Meet Lady Baa Baa of Pasado’s Safe Haven in Seattle, Wash. Her dress is made of kale!
Events of today!
Laura wrote a separate post all about this weekend! Go read it if you haven’t already!
Events of the future!
Mission Pie is holding its fourth annual Pie Contest on Sunday, Oct. 17! To enter, email them with your name, phone number, and intended pie by 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 15—contest is limited to the first 30 applicants so vegan bakers, get going!
This will be good practice for the next East Bay Vegan Bakesale! It’s happening on Saturday, Oct. 30 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in front of Issues (20 Glen Ave. at Piedmont) in Oakland. All proceeds will benefit Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue and the East Bay Children’s Book Project. Want to volunteer (of course you do!)? Email the organizers!
And now, issues about which to giggle and rage
When he’s away from home, he misses “Proper food like you get in a civilised city,” says Guardian food writer Tim Hayward about eating in foreign countries compared to eating in London. It always throws you when a liberal, lefty paper employs a chauvinist, right? Especially a totally oblivious culinary chauvinist who loves London’s native sushi, “Mexican street food,” and Vietnamese soup best. Stupid people at home include Alliance For Truth, who are staunchly against Missouri’s Prop. B, a.k.a. the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, which would require commercial dog-breeding facilities—30 percent of the country’s puppy mills are located in Missouri—to provide “sufficient food and water” and “adequate rest between breeding cycles” for their slave-animals. AFT hates it because, um, it’s sponsored by HSUS? Aw, good old Charlie the cigarette-smoking chimpanzee died this week! He lived in the Mangaung Zoo in Bloemfontein, South Africa, and “started smoking when some visitors…threw him lit cigarettes.” According to Reuters, zookeepers only put an end to the smoking “when videos of him puffing away circulated globally a few years ago,” which was presumably really embarrassing. Sgt. Nevis the sea lion will undergo “the first-ever reconstructive surgery on a sea lion” today, to repair wounds he suffered after some soulless demon shot him multiple times in the face last year. Then the Sgt. gets to go home to—Sea Lion Cove at Six Flags Marine World!! SUPER! Oh and guys, don’t worry about “Asian carp” destroying the Great Lakes; "European mussels" have already invaded!
The egg recall continues to have consequences, as it should. The Democratic challenger in the Iowa state Agriculture secretary race is running on a big reform campaign, particularly making “vaccination programs and regular inspections for salmonella…mandatory,” and requiring “egg producers to have a veterinarian on staff,” rules like Maine already has. The Cornucopia Institute recently published a report called Scrambled Eggs, which highlights “national and local producers that are supplying ethically produced organic eggs and are worthy of consumer support,” versus factory farm egg production. Vegetarian and omnivorous pals, this is for you! In Ohio, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the state’s weird law prohibiting distinction on product labels between milk from cows given rbST injections and cows not given the hormone. Because, you know, there are several differences. How creepy.
In New York City, the charming mayor wants to put “beverages with more than 10 calories per 8 ounces”—excluding 100 percent fruit juices, “milk products, and milk substitutes”—on the list of Food Stamps No-Buys. Full-sugar soda: On the same evil level as booze, now! In L.A., the mayor’s Food Policy Task Force is working to get more locally grown produce sold in areas with more people on food-stamp programs, to support the economy twice over and increase access to healthier foods in nutritional dead zones. Jonathan Blaustein, an artist in northern New Mexico, has a project called "The Value of a Dollar," in which he photographed “food items as they were sold (minus packaging), without styling, retouching, or artificial lighting. Each image represents a dollar’s worth of food purchased from various markets in New Mexico.” It’s pretty great. Maybe your problem, food-stampers, is that you’re not getting together for 36-hour multifamily dinner parties, you lazy poors.
It’s not like the federal government gives a fuck about you, anyway; McDonald’s just got a waiver “to maintain even minimal coverage far below the new [health care legislation]’s standards,” and we learned that threatening to strip 30,000 employees of all health care totally works. And won’t it be great when the FDA lets AquaBounty sell that AquAdvantage salmon without even telling consumers that it is the magical perfect salmon? Too bad it’s not in the least perfect. Bright spot: the Department of Homeland Security is helping solve the mysterious horror of colony collapse. That’s right, the same department with employees who pat you down at the airport is working with a “Bee Alert team” on this massive project that’s so far been pretty successful.
At-home activism: C.A.S. asks that you send a polite email to authorities in the United Arab Emirates asking them please not to introduce bullfighting in the U.A.E. C.A.S. has heard nothing directly from the U.A.E., only reports from French and Spanish media sources, but just in case, maybe email. Farm Sanctuary asks that you sign a petition politely asking President Obama that the two traditionally “pardoned” Thanksgiving turkeys be sent to Farm Sanctuary this year.
Ending on a happier note: Our pals at CSA Delivery are back to posting! Maybe irregularly, but something’s better than nothing! They’ve got two vegetarian recipes that are super-easily veganizable, and we are so happy to see them, hooray!
The same charmingly misanthropic news, one day later: it’s your weekend link-o-rama! »
This gorgeous rhinoceros is a screen print by artist Millie Marotta.
Take some action from your computer this weekend! The Humane Society asks that you send an email to Dr. Barbara Alving of the National Center for Research Resources to politely ask her to retire 26 “elderly, wild-caught chimpanzees” at the New Iberia Research Center, some of whom have been research subject for over 50 years. PCRM needs you to ask your senators to support the Great Ape Protection Act. Farm Sanctuary would appreciate it if you would send a message to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Committee Chair George Miller to remind them of your support for the House version of the Child Nutrition Act, and ask that they work to get that version passed. Then, learn about meal-planning from the Domestic Vegan, and practice good nutrition yourself. Or bad nutrition, your Vegansaurus offers this link as a money-saving tip, we make no judgment on your vegan foodstuffs.
HSUS is such a fraud, you guys—did you know they want to take away our pets and turn us all into VEGANS? Just ask Joe “the plumber” Wurzelbacher, the king of political commentary! Look, they will wear their terrifying uniforms and kick down your doors looking for “abused animals” like the fucking Gestapo. Another organization dedicated to denying real ‘murricans’ right to kick downer cows, Mercy For Animals, reports that one of the Conklin Dairy workers on trial in Ohio pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals; he was sentenced to eight months in jail, to pay a $1,000 fine, may not come into contact with animals for three years. I wonder how much jail time ol’ egg-recall DeCoster will get for causing hundreds of people to contract Salmonella illness? Or for allowing for the torture of so many hens for so many decades? Yeah, vegetarians, nice job with the eggs-and-milk diet. But hey, milk and yogurt are so hot right now, especially unpasteurized milk, which you have to buy it all under-the-table like bathtub gin. Hope it doesn’t kill you!
Have you had your dose of rage today? I know you skimmed that anti-HSUS polemic, but this interview with Hal Herzog about his new book Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat will really raise your blood pressure. He’s a real peach, Hal Herzog; “What do we make of the fact that in 1933 the Nazi party enacted the world’s most progressive animal protection legislation?” he asks, and BAM you know you’re not going to get a sensible word out of him. It’s endorsed by Irene M. Pepperberg, the “Me” of Alex & Me—you know, the African Grey parrot who never got to leave the lab—and Vegansaurus’ favorite “animal welfare activist,” Temple Grandin. And the interview itself is nothing but softball questions, no follow-ups on the ridiculous claims Herzog makes, and OH he makes some outrageous ones. Maybe a better book for people with logical brains and feeling hearts is The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant; it’s the story of the 49 pit bulls after their rescued from Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring in 2007.
Another Millie Marotta screen print! This one is a donkey, could you tell?
Good news, everyone! Since 1999, scientists have possessed the silk gene, but now they’re able to reproduce it in seeds, tubers, and transgenic tobacco. Imagine a word of cruelty-free silk! That doesn’t mean science is done with animals, though; suppressing a certain gene in mice—which is also found in humans—can affect cognition; they call it “the Homer Simpson gene,” ha ha ha they can make mice stupider! Does that mean it will affect humans the same way? WHO KNOWS? They don’t even know all the effects of the suppression of this gene on the mice yet! Well, at least the FDA hasn’t approved that poor AquAdvantage “salmon” yet, despite the feelings (read: ridiculous arguments) of our esteemed colleague at Reason feels. You know, if we trusted libertarians, the majority of our grandparents would be living in the rooms we are living in now at our parents’ house. “Free-market solution” is an oxymoron, friends. As is “Corn refiners care about your health, which is why they want to change the name of high-fructose corn syrup.” Wait, no, that’s a lie, and Marion Nestle’s gonna fuck you up.
Last Sunday, Sept. 12, anti-bullfighting organizations CAS International, PACMA, and AnimaNaturalis held a collective protest of the Torneo del Toro de la Vega in Tordesillas, Spain. This torneo involves men on horseback and on foot chasing a bull across a bridge toward a meadow. During the run, these men repeatedly stab the bull with lances, but they aren’t allowed to kill him until they all reach the vega. Then the man who kills the bull gets the “honor” of cutting off the bull’s testicles, and parading around the village with them; then he gets a gold medal. Just like an Olympic athlete, you guys! This year’s bull was named Platanito, and apparently his ordeal was over in 15 minutes, which is comparatively brief. We are also super-impressed with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, who already this week murdered a bear for violating a three-strikes law; now they’re demanding an expedited permit to hunt the fuck out of the 525 wolves remaining in their state. They only want to kill, like 75, and they won’t gas any babies this time, they swear. Just because an animal is on the federal endangered species list, that doesn’t mean you can’t shoot a few of them, right? Come on!
Farmers markets, consumer warnings and political scandal in your egg-recall update! »
The Humane Society wants us to know that eggs from the farmers market can come from hens treated just as terribly as hens that supply eggs for supermarkets. Many of you are probably like, “duh,” but before I became vegan, I was unaware of this sort of thing. I even assumed “organic” automatically meant humane! But it’s just not so. Side note: that was actually why I initially became vegan, because if you don’t go directly to the farm, you just don’t know how the animals are treated. But I can’t be running around on farms everyday just so I can eat omelets! I’ve got work to do and dance moves to perfect!
Last week, the Humane Society sent letters to California’s farmers markets asking them to forbid the sale of eggs from caged hens: “To increase food safety, improve animal welfare, and to meet the expectations of their consumers, we hope California’s farmers markets will stop allowing their well-earned ‘halo effect’ to extend to companies and products that don’t deserve it.” LGBT Compassion regularly protests the live-chicken vendors at Heart of the City Farmers Market—did you know that these hens aren’t protected by California’s poultry slaughter laws?
Of course cage-free doesn’t necessarily mean the hen can go outside or anything silly like that, but they generally* do have enough room to spread their wings and actually move in general. And as the Humane Society points out, “cage-free” also means safer, according to the last 10 studies on the subject.
In other egg-recall news, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says consumer notification systems in food-recalls are plain janky. She says it’s imperative for their health that people get up-to-date information and they should be notified within 24 hours of any recall. I’m going to have to cosign this movement as I was talking to friends just last weekend who had heard jackshit about the egg recall. Dang it! I love most of my friends! I don’t want them to die from Salmonella!
Does anyone else remember the E. coli outbreak in spinach in 2006? When I went to Whole Foods around then, every single bag of spinach had an E. coli warning—have they done that with the eggs? I don’t know, I don’t buy eggs, but I doubt it. And you know why? Politics!
That’s right, in the world of food safety, corruption abounds. A survey released yesterday by the Union of Concerned Scientists showed that almost half of the scientists and inspectors at the federal agencies in charge of food safety say big business and congress has interfered in their work. This was a problem under the Bush administration and apparently there’s been little improvement under Obama. From the LA Times:
"What we found is that action is needed to curtail interference in science, both political and that driven by the private sector," said Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "We have two very different agencies giving very identical responses, and this suggests the need for broad reform."
Inspectors responding to the survey reported pressure from their own agencies to make problems disappear and to help offending companies remain open even when there are clear violations. So basically, we’re screwed! Business over safety, that’s the American way.
Speaking of business and corruption, Grist had a good piece yesterday about the crazy egg empire of Jack DeCoster. DeCoster owns Wright County Egg, one of the egg factories subject to the recall, and according to Grist writer Tom Philpott, he’s “one of the most reviled figures in industrial agriculture.” DeCoster views violating food safety laws as no big deal, and paying fines as another part of doing business. OMG this guy rules! Wright County Egg is only the ninth-largest egg producer in the U.S. BUT! DeCoster may very well be numero uno of the egg market! BUT! It’s very confusing! Philpott tries to get to the bottom of it:
[There are] four large egg producers—DeCoster Family Farms (Wright County Egg), Hillandale Farms, Ohio Fresh Eggs, and Quality Eggs of Maine—which [are] controlled by or have extremely intimate links with Jack DeCoster. The Cal-Maine list of the largest U.S. egg producers puts the hen flocks of DeCoster Family Farms, Hillandale, and Ohio Fresh at 9 million, 14 million, and 7.6 million, respectively. It doesn’t list Quality Egg of Maine, but the Boston Globe says it keeps 5 million hens…. [T]hat amounts 35.6 million hens under management by companies owned by or tightly linked with DeCoster—more than 10 percent of the nation’s total flock (340 million).
Philpott is not done yet but I’ll keep you updated. God bless his tireless soul!
I know our vegan readers don’t buy eggs, but many of our friends and loved ones do. One thing we can do is get them hip to the farmers market jive and tell them to always ask egg vendors if the hens are cage-free, and to ask farmers market organizers if they allow eggs from caged hens. I find that even when omnivores don’t care how animals are treated, many of them are über-scared of food-borne illnesses so the increased danger caused by small cages is a good thing to make them aware of. Everybody now: BABY STEPS!
*This is an update. Cage-free doesn’t necessarily mean they can spread their wings or anything superfluous like that. FYI.
In this video interview with Big Think, Jonathan Safran Foer discusses Eating Animals, the recent egg recall, why he’s an animal-rights advocate but not an animal-lover, and how facory farming is a pressing global issue. It’s really good!
380 million egg recall now underway. Great! »
Yep, 380 MILLION EGGS are being recalled. Jesus fucking christ. The Humane Society warns of a huge public safety risk (UH NO DOY) and calls on the egg industry to phase out battery cages. According to HSUS, scrambling eggs doesn’t kill Salmonella so it’s not even just uncooked eggs you gotta watch out for and that is SO GROSS. Further, eggs from confined hens have 7.77 times greater odds of carrying Salmonella. Again, SO FUCKING GROSS.
You know what has no risk of Salmonella? NOT EATING EGGS. I don’t get it. What is with America’s dependence on eggs? They’re bad for us, the industry is evil to everyone involved (systemic price-gouging, anyone?), and even The Kitchn says vegan cupcakes taste better!
Just quit it! We can help. Anyone willing to give up eggs for a month should holler at me and i’ll make you a dozen vegan cookies. NO I SERIOUSLY WILL. Wait, should we make this a thing? Like get a list of people willing to commit to giving up eggs for a month and getting some cookies in return? Would that work? I’m willing to put my baking clothes (read: eating pants) on to make that happen!